There are a plethora of language learning options these days. From live classes to apps to formal and expensive software, it can be difficult to pick out a course that suits you and your learning style. Rocket Languages is an online language learning course that enables students to set their own pace and learn a language themselves from scratch.
Rocket German is one of the 12 languages that Rocket Languages offers. It has 3 levels of course advancement (Levels I, II, and III) and hundreds of hours of audio and written lessons.
How does Rocket German stack up to the competition? What style of teaching does it encompass and offer? I have taken this software (now updated for 2018!) for a test drive and this review will show you what I found; a well rounded, amazing bang for your buck language learning course that can help you learn German at your own pace and on your own time.
Rocket German is a multi-faceted course that combines several different types of teaching and learning methods, including written, audio, and verbal strategies. The course involves several segments, including:
- New For 2018: Improved Voice Recognition, My Benchmark, Improved Dashboard, Voice Recognition storage, and better lesson bookmarking
- Interactive Audio Lessons – These focus on the conversational aspects of German as well as on pronunciation and some additional grammar tips and pauses for repetition by the student. These make up the “meat” of the program, and include “Know It” and “Play It” which are speaking lessons that use voice recognition to help your pronunciation.
- Language And Culture Lessons – These lessons get more specific and give you information on the more complex aspects of grammar and German culture.
- Advanced Learning – these sections help you out by giving you a bunch of language learning tips and tricks. There are also motivational articles and lessons that will help you stay hungry to learn more.
- Survival Kit – these lessons are great for people who need to speak German “right away” and jump right into certain topics such as food, travel, healthcare, and other topics that might frequently come up if you’re using the language in the field.
- Flash Cards – these are pretty much as described – the flash card game helps you to remember words and phrases through repetition.
- Quizzes – test out your knowledge with quizzes designed to see how well you are progressing.
- Forum – chat with other language learners and get help on confusing topics such as grammar.
Interactive Audio Lessons
The interactive audio lessons make up the main “bulk” of the Rocket Languages course. These segmented lessons are broken down into easy to digest pieces that range from 15 to 30 minutes each. Some of the long ones do feel like they get a little lengthy, but for the most part they are quite manageable and provide time for the lessons to really sink in.
The lessons provide quite a few points where the student is instructed to repeat phrases out loud. It almost becomes comical how often you’re reminded to repeat certain phrases, but honestly this is the best method in order to retain the lesson. If you just passively listen to the lessons you won’t really get the full benefits.
The audio lessons are very clear and easy to understand, and the speakers are concise and audible, and they progress at a very reasonable pace. The quality is superb, and I barely heard any “errors” such as accidental background noise.
You can download the audio files to take with you, however with the 2018 introduction of the Rocket Languages app, you can quite easily resume your lessons on the go without the need to deal with cumbersome .mp3 files. The app really changes the game and allows busy individuals to learn a bit every day and stay brushed up on audio lessons.
Audio Recognition: Hear It! Say It!
Throughout the course are phrases that will help you determine how well your pronunciation is. These audio tests can be set from easy to difficult, and they actually do a pretty good job of not letting you get lazy with your pronunciation. Sometimes the audio recording functionality got a little finicky and I had to close my browser and re-open it, however I’m sure they will fix this bug. I actually like this because it got me speaking and trying hard to ensure my pronunciation is right…something that’s hard to do on your own without a physical teacher there.
Language And Culture / Survival Kit
Included among the audio lessons are the Language and Culture lessons that take you through the various aspects of German grammar. This is one area that some learn at home programs can fail to provide adequate instruction, leaving students confused.
There are also cultural lessons that give you a look inside German culture, and the reasons why their language and greetings, etc, may be a certain way. These lessons will give you a leg up, especially if you want to travel to the native country at some point.
Speaking of travel, the Survival Kit offers students specific lessons in certain categories that would be immediately useful to people who would be traveling to the native country or actually using German in the field. This is another thing that other language courses can sometimes lack; Rosetta Stone might enable you to say “The boy is holding an apple”, but how often are you actually going to say that? The Survival Kit gives you access to words and phrases that can be immediately useful in day to day life.
We’ve already mentioned it, but in case you missed it or are skimming this review, the Rocket Languages mobile app is a great new addition to their 2018 update. The app is very easy to use with a clean interface that mirrors the browser version. All lessons and functionality is included in the app, including voice recognition.
This app enables you to stay up to date on your lessons even if you’re on the road or even just out and about driving around. Repetition and time is key to learning a foreign language, and this is a huge help to those looking to stay active in their language learning journey.
Tracking Your Progress
The Rocket German interface enables you to track your progress using their colorful icon system and daily points tally. You can decide how many daily points you want to rack up each day (according to how much time you have) and the little meter on the sidebar will keep you motivated.
Completing each lesson’s modules colors in one of the icons on the sidebar as well. Green is for “Perfect”, and the other descending colors categorize how much work you need to do on the segments in order to get them perfect. This color coding is a great way to ensure that you’re doing all the exercises properly and getting the most out of the course.
It’s pretty satisfying to get the green 100% icon, and this helps create a sense of accomplishment that helps to keep you going in your lessons.
There is also a “leader board” that shows the different Rocket German users and how you rank compared to their progress. I’m not very competitive, but I think it’s probably pretty satisfying to see your name up there. You also get rankings badges based on how many points you earn. For those that like a little competition, this might be a great motivator!
Advanced Learning Section
This section is chock full of great small lessons all about language learning strategies and tactics. Learning a new language is difficult! These articles and pep talks give you a bit of insider knowledge on how to make the process easier and more effective. They talk about things such as learning styles, memory, and basic strategies to help make your new knowledge of German stick! It’s a very cool section and one that I really like Rocket Languages for including.
The Flash Cards section has replaced the old “Mega Cards” game that used to be part of the Rocket Languages series. This is my only disappointment with the course – the flash card game is good for helping people memorize vocabulary, but I found it to be a bit simplistic and a little too boring. However, I do believe that using it is a great way to make things “stick” for certain people.
Online Community Forum
The Rocket Languages series provides a helpful user forum to connect the users with each other. It’s a place where you can go post questions and get answers – whether it’s a question about the course itself, or German grammar or other things. Unfortunately the forum is not super active, however when a question is posted it usually gets responses. It’s definitely hard to cultivate an online forum–it really depends on the users to use it. It’s a helpful addition but one that just needs a bit more traffic.
Customer Support And Guarantee
The Rocket Languages staff is very helpful and supportive. If you have any questions or problems with the course they are extremely responsive. Also, the entire course is covered by a money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied for whatever reason, you can get a full refund. This purchase protection is a great reason to give Rocket German a whirl – you have nothing to lose!
Additionally I had a great experience with the staff – they were very responsive even when I hadn’t contacted them specifically. I had posted a question on the user forum (regarding the old Mega Cards game) and a staff person quickly followed up with a detailed answer.
Yep! You can try out Rocket German thanks to their free trial offer, which might be a great way for you to see if it’s something you want to try out.
If you’re looking to learn German at home with a great software course, then I highly encourage you to give Rocket German a try. It’s one of the best “bang for your buck” learning courses on the market when looking at the price and all the content that you get. I’ve been using and reviewing Rocket Languages for years and they have only improved their offerings over time. Even The Guardian and the New York Times had great things to say about the courses provided.
The course is definitely not perfect, and it has its own strengths compared to the different courses that are out there on the market such as Rosetta Stone and Living Languages. Also, if you really want to be fluent you will have to go beyond Rocket German and do some additional immersion such as with films and books. However like I said, I truly think that it’s the best value for the price, and is a great way to introduce yourself to the German language.